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Archive 2001

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, October 5, 2001

Tougher BOP rules boost RCDC construction costs

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Oct. 5, 2001 -- Reeves County Commissioners approved a change order to  include new U.S. Bureau of Prisons regulations regarding an upgrade  in low security requirements for the proposed Reeves County  Detention Center expansion project (RCDC III) during a special meeting this  morning in the third floor courtroom at Reeves County Courthouse.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo said that the BOP has been developing a higher standard for low security prisons, which would affect the construction of the planned 960-bed addition.

"Over the last couple of years the BOP has developed criteria for the low security facilities," he said.

Galindo explained that the standards include security bars on all openings in the roof and walls of the facility using 12-gauge steel.

In looking at the security requirements for the facility we would need to upgrade the decking for the roofing of these units with 12-gauge steel plates," he said.

Curt Nissen, project superintendent of Carothers Construction, Inc., said that the steel roofing would help lower the threat of attempted escapes.

"It would make it more difficult for them to ever cut a hole in the roof," he said.

Galindo said that the upgrades for RCDC III would add approximately $1.2 million to the project.

"These upgrades bring us to the standard the Bureau has published," he said.

Galindo also said that upgrading to the standards would help the county compete with other facilities if the federal government decided to vote for privatization of the federal prison system.

"It would give the county the opportunity to compete," he said.

All commissioners voiced concerns of the added cost of the upgrade before the county has even received bids for the construction of the addition, but Galindo assured them that once the county has received bids they could choose to deny the upgrade.

"I think it's important to keep the county's options open," he said.

The commissioners also approved a change order that would allow Carothers Construction an additional two weeks ahead of schedule to begin construction on RCDC III as well as change the completion date to Jan. 19, 2003. The new addition will bring the prison's capacity up to 2,960 inmates.

Galindo said that Carothers requested the change order, which would allow them the two extra weeks.

He said that if the construction were not completed by that date the company would pay a penalty of $3,600 per day that the project is not completed.

Also approved by the court this morning was a list of criteria that the court would go by in evaluating the bids for construction.

County Auditor Lynn Owens said that Reeves County needs to inform the companies that would send in bids of the criteria that they would be judged by.

"You have to have a criteria to evaluate proposals," he said. "You have to inform them of how the bid is going to be evaluated."

Owens said under Section 271 of the Texas Local Government Code the county would be able to judge on the price, reputation, resume and past history with the company.

"What it allows us to do is try to get the best value for the county," he said. "The best value is not necessarily the lowest price."

Owens also said that the county needed to use a point system in evaluating the bids in order to determine which is the better bid.

He also said that that would allow them to explain their choice.

The commissioners awarded a bid to Jarratt Dirt Work & Paving in Fort Davis to begin the dirt work for RCDC III as well as awarding a professional service contract for materials testing services to Trinity Engineering out of Midland.

Today's discussion of RCDC III projects will be followed on Monday by other RCDC construction-related items, during the regular meeting of the commissioners court, set for 9:30 a.m. in the third floor courtroom of the Reeves County Courthouse.

Along with several requests for payment for LMD Architects, the commissioners will also discuss/take action of bids for a water tank for the RCDC III project. They will also discuss/take action on Banes General Contractor's request for payment No. 6 on the racquetball courts at Pecos High School, as part of the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Center.

The board will also:

Discuss/take action on Reeves County Golf Course equipment lease contract;

Discuss/take action on Martinez Ballpark irrigation and lighting system projects;

Discuss/take action on Reeves County Golf Course driving range improvements and lighting project;

Discuss/take action on well pump repairs at Greenwood Cemetery;

Discuss/take action on bid/lease of county-owed residential property in Ward County;

Discuss/take action on issuance of certificate of compliance for electrical service in Reeves County;

Discuss/take action on approving transportation crew mileage payments;

Discuss/take action on computer software/hardware maintenance contracts for the Reeves County Clerk's office;

Discuss/take action on approving the FY 2002 tax roll;

Discuss/take action on a land donation from the W.A. Moncrief estate;

Discuss/take action on a juvenile probation service agreement between Reeves County and Tom Green County;

Discuss/take action on a central counting station and paying election workers for the Nov. 6 general election;

Discuss/take action on fees for sheriff and constables for 2002;

Discuss/take action on personnel and salary changes at the RCDC, juvenile department and sheriff's department;

Also to be considered are semi-monthly bills, budget amendments and line item transfers.

The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Monday in the third floor courtroom at the Reeves County Courthouse.

State judge's redistricting plan cuts Bonilla out of area

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Fri., Oct. 5, 2001 -- Reeves County will be part of a new congressional district without  an incumbent in 2002, if a plan laid out by a State District Court judge  is upheld on appeal.

Most of the 23rd Congressional District, which runs from the eastern sections of El Paso along the Texas-Mexico border to Laredo, would remain together as a district, including Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City. But one section that would be removed from the group in the northwest side of San Antonio, home of the district's current congressman, Henry Bonilla.

Under the ruling released Wednesday by State Judge Paul Davis, Bonilla (R-San Antonio) would remain in the 23rd District, but it would be realigned to stretch north and west out of San Antonio, and would include San Angelo and parts of Bell and Williamson counties in Central Texas. The rest of Bonilla's current 23rd District would be renamed the 31 st Congressional District and would include the far western edges of Bexar County (San Antonio) and from there drop south to Zapata County along the Rio Grande border.

It would include Reeves and all surrounding counties, and the eastern section of El Paso County, with the exception of area south of Interstate 10 which would become part of District 16, represented by Silvestre Reyes (D-El Paso).

While Bonilla has said he would like to add San Angelo to his district, the five-term congressman said he hopes Davis' plan will be rejected and he can maintain his current district boundaries, including additional area in El Paso

"I didn't want to lose my area," Bonilla said. "I love my area and I've become attached to my folks."

"At this point we're going to be working at keeping the 23rd District the way it is," said Bonilla's press secretary, Taryn Fritz, this morning. "It (Davis' ruling) is going to be appealed. It will move forward, and we will do what we can do to hold onto our original district."

Texas gained two seats because of population growth, giving it a total of 32 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bonilla said the ruling isn't final and representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties are working out final details with the court.

If the ruling stands, however, Bonilla, a San Antonio Republican, would be faced with a choice of running in his old district or the new 31st District.

"We're not considering either (option) until we get the court's final decision," said spokeswoman Taryn Fritz.

The new district would start roughly at the city's eastern limits and continue east, spanning 11 of the 14 counties that border Mexico. The new district would take in about 28,000 El Paso County residents and 775 people inside the city limits, while its biggest population center in the new district would be Webb County, which includes Laredo, with about 191,000 people. The district would be 70.5 percent Hispanic.

It also is possible the final plan will face a legal challenge Bonilla said. Courts are handling the redrawing of Texas congressional districts because the state Legislature failed to do the job this year.

The new 23rd District would have its populations centers in the sections on the west side of San Antonio and the north side of Austin, along with San Angelo and the Killeen/Copperas Cove areas on the south side of Fort Hood. The division of Fort Hood has brought protests from the area's current congressman, 11th District Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Waco), and other Democrats said the plan proposed by Judge Davis could be far more costly to Texas Democrats in the long run, costing them as many as nine seats in the U.S. House in the 2002 election.

Those involved in the redistricting case said they would appeal to the U.S. Justice Department, a three-judge federal court panel in Tyler and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The panel in Tyler will begin a pretrial hearing next Friday, where minority and partisan interests will address their positions before Chief U.S. District Judge John H. Hannah Jr. and District Judge T. John Ward, and 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Patrick Higginbotham of Dallas.

Currently, Democrats hold 17 seats, with Republicans 13. Texas will gain two congressional seats next year because of population growth. Those involved in the redistricting case contradict with each other on exactly how those numbers might change under Davis' plan.

Much of the growth has been in Republican strongholds of the state and among mostly Hispanic communities.

But Nina Perales, a lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the proposed map does not acknowledge the rapid growth of Hispanics in the last decade.

"We see a very strong Voting Rights Act case in the failure to create a seventh Latino district in South and West Texas," she said. "There were six Latino districts before, and there are still six of them now."

Perales said that instead of creating a new majority Hispanic district, the judge "packed" Hispanics into the existing districts.

"This map is just one step in a long legal process, and everyone understands that Texas redistricting will ultimately be resolved by the federal court in Tyler," said U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas.

Pecos FD collects $2,700 in donations for NYC firemen

PECOS, Fri., Oct. 5, 2001 -- Pecos Volunteer firemen raised over $2,700 last weekend to benefit firemen and the families of those who were killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Over 300 New York City firefighters were among the estimated 6,000 people killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers after terrorists crashed hijacked jetliners into the buildings. Fundraisers have been held across the United States in the wake of the tragedy, and local firemen were out at two intersections last Saturday collecting money for the relief effort.

Pecos Fire Department Lt. Abel V. Dominguez said a total of $2,422.50 was collected, with another $300 donated by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce Ladies Auxiliary. Dominguez said Wal-Mart would match the donations of the collections.

"People were very generous in their donations," Dominguez said in a letter to the Enterprise about the collections. "I had people from different parts of the U.S.A. compliment us for our efforts."

"On behalf of the PVFD, I wish to express my thanks to all those who helped. It makes me proud to be an American when I see people giving their last few pennies away to help somebody else," Dominguez said. "Again, thank you Pecos for helping out. And to those who we missed, `See you next time.'"


PECOS, Fri., Oct. 5, 2001 -- High Thursday 91. Low this morning 63. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly cloudy and breezy. Lows in the mid 40s. Northeast  winds 15 to 25 mph: Decreasing to 5 to 10 mph.
Saturday: Partly cloudy and cool. Highs around 75. East  winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows around 50. 
Sunday: Partly cloudy and warmer. Highs 75 to 80.  Columbus Day through Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the 50s.  Highs around 80.


Alberto Marquez

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